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In Spanish-speaking countries, the notario publico provides valuable legal services. Despite literally translating in English to ‘notary public,’ a notario publico has many powers that a U.S. notary public lacks.

Understanding the difference between the offerings of a notary in America and a notario publico can clear up confusion about what an official can and cannot do. If you are bilingual or come from Latin America originally, you should know that the functions of an American notary are limited. Immigrants, in particular, may be confused by the differences between the United States and their country of origin.

Likewise, if you are interested in purchasing property or doing business in countries where they are common, you will encounter the role of a notario public. You may be put off by the seemingly vast powers these individuals possess.

In the United States, each individual state sets the rules for licensing and practices of notaries public. A notary cannot work in a different state without an additional license. Conversely, a licensed notario publico usually has jurisdiction to work anywhere in their country.

Below, you will find a description of both a notary and a notario publico, plus an explainer on what they can and cannot do. The article will discuss powers, limitations, and fees, as well as compare differences between the systems.

Notario Publico and Notary Meaning

Again, notario publico in Spanish directly translates to notary public in English. However, the differences between the two roles are vast. Generally, a notario publico has more experience, qualifications, and powers than does a notary.

What Is a Notario Publico?

In some Central, South, and Latin American countries, the notario publico provides numerous legal services. Typically, the notario publico is already a lawyer and has years of experience in that role. Sometimes, additional age restrictions require a notario publico to be at least 35 years of age.

The critical factors surrounding a notario publico are that they are proven, trustworthy individuals. herefore, with additional training and licensure, these individuals are granted powers to dispense legal advice and verify legal documents.

What Is a Notary?

In America, the notary public is an individual who can attest to oaths and verify individuals when signing important documents. However, the American notary does not have to be an attorney. In fact, usually, just about anyone can become a notary after receiving training and licensure.

Each state sets its own qualifications for becoming a notary public. Indeed, in some states, to prevent confusion, notaries are prohibited from advertising themselves as a notario publico. Texas, a state with a large spanish-speaking population, has this ban so that people seeking legal services do not retain unqualified notaries.

License Qualification

American notaries are appointed by the government of the state where they reside. Despite having more minor powers than a notario publico overseas, notaries must abide by rules and receive training and licensing.

For example, take Texas’ rules for becoming a notary. An individual qualifies to be a notary if they are:

  • At least 18 years old.
  • Be a resident of Texas and of the United States
  • Pay an application fee and bond.

Contrast that with the qualifications to become a notario publico in the district around Mexico City. Individuals seeking to be a notario publico must be:

  • Between 25 and 60 years old.
  • Be a licensed lawyer.
  • Have studied under another notario publico for at least six months.
  • Not be a church leader.
  • Not have any criminal history.
  • Have been born in Mexico.
  • Have passed a written exam.

The more stringent requirements to become a notario publico are reflected in the duties and scope of the services they can legally provide.

Texas notaries can do things such as administer oaths, take depositions, and verify the identity of an individual and certify the validity of their signature.

But in Mexico City, a notario publico can:

  • Arbitrate or mediate disputes.
  • Issue judicial opinions.
  • Verify that important legal documents do not lack any requirements or contain inconsistencies.
  • Record public deeds.

The powers of a notario publico are similar to both a lawyer and judge in the American legal system.

Notaries Fees

In the United States, notary fees usually are minimal and usually capped by law. For example, Texas does not allow a notary public to charge more than $6 for any individual service.

A notario publico can command a much larger fee. For example, they typically receive a set percentage of any transaction to which they lend their services. When recording a real estate sale of $1 million (or local currency equivalent), the notario publico may receive a fee of over 1%, representing $10,000 or more.

FAQs About Notaries

  • Can Notaries Prepare or Offer Advice for Filling Out Immigration Forms?

    No. Unless the notary is also a qualified attorney, no one is allowed to help someone fill out their own immigration paperwork in the United States. Many attorneys also are licensed as a notary, so these individuals can assist with immigration forms. But only in their power as an attorney, not as a notary public.

  • Does Notarization Make a Document Legal?

    The legal enforceability of a document is not judged by an American notary public. Instead, the notary is merely verifying the identity of any signers and attesting their signatures are genuine.

    Some legal documents may be required to be notarized to be enforceable, but that does not mean the notary public is attesting to the document's legality by providing their services.

  • Can Notaries Give Legal Advice or Help Draft Legal Documents?

    A United States notary public cannot offer legal advice nor participate in the drafting of legal documents.

    However, some American lawyers are also notaries and can provide their legal services, including advice. They must be clear they are operating as an attorney during such proceedings.

In Spanish-speaking countries, the notario publico provides valuable legal services. Despite literally translating in English to ‘notary public,’ a notario publico has many powers that a U.S. notary public lacks.

Understanding the difference between the offerings of a notary in America and a notario publico can clear up confusion about what an official can and cannot do. If you are bilingual or come from Latin America originally, you should know that the functions of an American notary are limited. Immigrants, in particular, may be confused by the differences between the United States and their country of origin.

Likewise, if you are interested in purchasing property or doing business in countries where they are common, you will encounter the role of a notario public. You may be put off by the seemingly vast powers these individuals possess.

In the United States, each individual state sets the rules for licensing and practices of notaries public. A notary cannot work in a different state without an additional license. Conversely, a licensed notario publico usually has jurisdiction to work anywhere in their country.

Below, you will find a description of both a notary and a notario publico, plus an explainer on what they can and cannot do. The article will discuss powers, limitations, and fees, as well as compare differences between the systems.

Notario Publico and Notary Meaning

Again, notario publico in Spanish directly translates to notary public in English. However, the differences between the two roles are vast. Generally, a notario publico has more experience, qualifications, and powers than does a notary.

What Is a Notario Publico?

In some Central, South, and Latin American countries, the notario publico provides numerous legal services. Typically, the notario publico is already a lawyer and has years of experience in that role. Sometimes, additional age restrictions require a notario publico to be at least 35 years of age.

The critical factors surrounding a notario publico are that they are proven, trustworthy individuals. herefore, with additional training and licensure, these individuals are granted powers to dispense legal advice and verify legal documents.

What Is a Notary?

In America, the notary public is an individual who can attest to oaths and verify individuals when signing important documents. However, the American notary does not have to be an attorney. In fact, usually, just about anyone can become a notary after receiving training and licensure.

Each state sets its own qualifications for becoming a notary public. Indeed, in some states, to prevent confusion, notaries are prohibited from advertising themselves as a notario publico. Texas, a state with a large spanish-speaking population, has this ban so that people seeking legal services do not retain unqualified notaries.

License Qualification

American notaries are appointed by the government of the state where they reside. Despite having more minor powers than a notario publico overseas, notaries must abide by rules and receive training and licensing.

For example, take Texas’ rules for becoming a notary. An individual qualifies to be a notary if they are:

  • At least 18 years old.
  • Be a resident of Texas and of the United States
  • Pay an application fee and bond.

Contrast that with the qualifications to become a notario publico in the district around Mexico City. Individuals seeking to be a notario publico must be:

  • Between 25 and 60 years old.
  • Be a licensed lawyer.
  • Have studied under another notario publico for at least six months.
  • Not be a church leader.
  • Not have any criminal history.
  • Have been born in Mexico.
  • Have passed a written exam.

The more stringent requirements to become a notario publico are reflected in the duties and scope of the services they can legally provide.

Texas notaries can do things such as administer oaths, take depositions, and verify the identity of an individual and certify the validity of their signature.

But in Mexico City, a notario publico can:

  • Arbitrate or mediate disputes.
  • Issue judicial opinions.
  • Verify that important legal documents do not lack any requirements or contain inconsistencies.
  • Record public deeds.

The powers of a notario publico are similar to both a lawyer and judge in the American legal system.

Notaries Fees

In the United States, notary fees usually are minimal and usually capped by law. For example, Texas does not allow a notary public to charge more than $6 for any individual service.

A notario publico can command a much larger fee. For example, they typically receive a set percentage of any transaction to which they lend their services. When recording a real estate sale of $1 million (or local currency equivalent), the notario publico may receive a fee of over 1%, representing $10,000 or more.

FAQs About Notaries

  • Can Notaries Prepare or Offer Advice for Filling Out Immigration Forms?

    No. Unless the notary is also a qualified attorney, no one is allowed to help someone fill out their own immigration paperwork in the United States. Many attorneys also are licensed as a notary, so these individuals can assist with immigration forms. But only in their power as an attorney, not as a notary public.

  • Does Notarization Make a Document Legal?

    The legal enforceability of a document is not judged by an American notary public. Instead, the notary is merely verifying the identity of any signers and attesting their signatures are genuine.

    Some legal documents may be required to be notarized to be enforceable, but that does not mean the notary public is attesting to the document's legality by providing their services.

  • Can Notaries Give Legal Advice or Help Draft Legal Documents?

    A United States notary public cannot offer legal advice nor participate in the drafting of legal documents.

    However, some American lawyers are also notaries and can provide their legal services, including advice. They must be clear they are operating as an attorney during such proceedings.